Sunday, May 27, 2007

All (fairly) quiet on the photographic front

I haven't had the time or inclination to take many photos recently, but there were a few fantastic night-time skies, and I did spend an hour or so with my telephoto lens and the wireless remote, trying to take pictures of the moon. It's hard. You need absolute stillness, and although I figured my shutter speeds were fast enough, I never took into consideration the movement of the moon which is massively magnified when you use long lenses. Even though the pictures looked crystal clear on the LCD, they were disappointingly soft when transferred onto the laptop. Here is the only one I was reasonably happy with, and even this required great sharpening and cropping.


Astrophotography is like this great white elephant in the corner of the room that I refuse to acknowledge the existence of. I know I'd love it. I also know that I don't need any more equipment, other than a simple device made out of a couple of pieces of wood and a bolt, and a stopwatch. I used to think that photographing 'deep sky' stuff was a question of great magnification, but in fact what you need is lots and lots of time to collect enough light to bring these things out. I can feel that this sort of photography is within my reach, and I can already imagine the shivers of excitement that I'd get when successful for the first time.

I also know that it might drive me utterly, irreversibly, insane. Astrophotography involves stuff that my brain was not programmed for, such as Hard Sums, and Following Instructions Properly. Even trying to follow the instructions for something that is supposedly simple, calibrating an equatorial mount, drives me just a little bit mental. It's frustrating that something so incredible is within my reach, but at the same time quite far.

The only other photo I put up on Flickr recently was this one:

The Woods

This was actually taken a few months ago. I never delete any photos. Ever. Even blurry, out of focus, boring photos that were just taken at the spur of the moment and have to real meaning. This isn't because I think I might use them, but I think more just a natural instinct that I have as a hoarder; I subscribe to the timeless fallacy of the hoarder, that "it might come in handy one day". Well for once it did. This shot, in colour dull and lifeless, sort of appeals to me in black and white. I saw it while looking over some old pictures, and when I turned it into black and white, it instantly looked miles better. You can make out the nice lighting of the trees, their long shadows due to the fact that it was taken late in the evening. The figure on the right, just out-of-place when in colour, takes on something of an ethereal quality when the picture was transformed. I think if I saw this picture I would be fairly impressed.

But is it art? Probably not. I didn't intend to take the picture that eventually emerged; I must be honest with myself about that. It's technically bad, as it was taken in bad light without a tripod. I didn't see it as a black and white picture at the time, nor did I think about the effect the 'figure' would have on the photo. Still though, it may not be art, but I know what I like. Even if it wasn't an intentional moment of artistic inspiration, I think that the fact that I saw it and realised its potential at some point means that I must be getting somewhat better at this photography malarkey.